Knits for the win…

Hello from Spring in Auckland. Despite this year feeling literally 5,000 days long, I’m thrilled to say we have enjoyed saying goodbye to Lockdown Mark 2, The Auckland Episode (less sourdough, more sour grapes ), and it’s rained! Not sure if the dams are full but my wee garden is looking lush.

Tommy looking very underwhelmed…

A visit to my lovely GP post lockdown has turned up a few surprises. Firstly, my liver is still intact (whoop, amazing!) Secondly , I could do with losing a few pounds. OK that one was probably a surprise to none but still. How boring. But given Diabetes runs rife in my Whanau, needs must . Getting old might be sometime be a drag, but not getting old is infinitely worse yes?

So I’m following Doctors orders and am dropping the pounds . I do intermittent fasting & that’s about as much as I need to say about that (I’m pretty sure hearing about my diet is about as dreary as hearing about my tax return , I’m an accountant, I should know…)

Any ho, it does mean sewing has been a little uninspiring. Do I want to spend ages making something I know won’t fit me in a few weeks/months? Enter knits , in all their lovely stretchy forgiving fabulousness.

First up is the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee, which I love (and it’s FREE!) I fiddled a bit with the neckline on this one, its wider than I intended, but a great casual top with my Muna & Broad Willandra pants. I was off to lunch at my sisters so elastic waist pants & a great stretchy top for the win. The fabric is a linen cotton mix from Miss Maude, so delicious to sew and wear.

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Next, a Cashmerette Saybrook Tank , (complete with apparently confused middle aged woman’s attempt to use the timer on her phone…) while it isn’t something I’d wear without some arm coverage , I love a tank under a cardigan. I have made several Springfield tops, perfect for matching fun patterns with knits, and great for my office , which veers between “a bit chilly” and “OMG turn the heater on” .  A knit version was too hard to resist! 

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If you are not loving the idea of sewing knits, I can recommend the Saybrook sewalong , putting tissue , or in my case, tracing paper, under my fabric when stitching was an absolute gamechanger, behold that flat neckline binding! Continue reading “Knits for the win…”

Because we need some comfort right now…

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How are you doing? I wondered if it would seem rather ridiculous talking about a cardigan when the world is going to hell in  handcart. But I know, for me anyway, a little normality in the chaos, is absolutely what I need. And wine. Lotsa wine.

So we went to Level 3 here in NZ on Monday, with the directive we would be at Level 4 in 48 hours. That is basically STAY AT HOME & isolated with your “bubble” for all but essential workers. I’ve never worked from home before, but I managed to get a work PC & printer (because my own PC decided it would be a good time to sh*t itself, and I couldn’t get it fixed in time, yay!) & have a nice wee set up at home.

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Health & Safety issue you say?

Mr D is also working from home, thankfully he has his own PC & laptop set up in his Man Lounge, so we are able to separate to work, meeting for lunch on the deck. Somehow I’ve ended up being barista, tea lady, lunch lady, chef & baker. At least I don’t have to empty the dishwasher (I draw the line!) I realize how incredibly lucky we both are to have our jobs & the opportunity to work at home comfortably. I have friends doing the mahi with kids at home, I don’t know how they do it!

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My sister on her walk around the block yelling at me from the other side of the hedge! 

So one of the pieces of advice I read for those new to working from home is to have a routine, and finds ways of separating home distractions & work. My usual morning routine is me charging around the house, shower, dress, grab lunch & go. No breakfast (I’m not remotely hungry first thing) not even coffee until I get to work.

I saw the movie The Post  a while back (worth watching) , and there is a lovely scene where Meryl Streep’s character is sitting in her glorious home in Washington DC, wearing a lovely nightgown,  enjoying a coffee and reading a paper early in the morning, preparing for the day. I thought why do I not start the day like that,  instead of me looking confused in a scrubby tee & pants trying to find something to wear that doesn’t need ironing?

While I still don’t look as glam as Meryl, at least my new routine is preparing coffees (I love you Nespresso) & sitting on the deck in the sunshine before logging on for the day. I’m planning on making some Carolyn PJ’s to get rid of the manky tees once and for all. I feel Meryl would  approve.

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Oh a headscarf you say…?

So dressing for work, when it involves a five second walk through the kitchen and sitting at the dining table all day?

I made my first Cashmerette Springfield top a few years ago now, perfect for using pretty fabric & ideal for wearing under another fav item, a nice cardigan. Now I know a cardi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea ( I’ve even heard “cardigan wearer” used as a term of derision) but I personally love them. Softer & more comfortable than a jacket, they can be chunky, pretty with embroidery, soft & snugly or cool in cotton.

So when Cashmerette brought out the Fuller Cardigan recently, I was very pleased. I had picked up some gorgeous merino from The Fabric Store recently (on sale) and some fab rayon in my favorite autumn colours from Spotlight, a whole outfit was forming.

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The cardigan came together pretty quickly. Now I think we can see it isn’t perfect! My knit game is not as strong as it could be, and I’m continuing a hate hate relationship with my interfacing, but its still perfectly wearable (for me anyway) . I made View A, with a deep V, I don’t actually have any suitable buttons (and won’t be shopping for any in the near future) but to be honest I probably wouldn’t use them anyway.

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The merino is quite lightweight, perfect for this time of year, when it’s just not quite warm enough (who am I kidding, it’s never hot enough for me until it’s too hot, I have about a 5 C margin of error 🙂 . The rayon in the singlet is also lightweight, the perfect layering outfit for Autumn or Spring. Or whatever temp you might be sitting inside in right now!

So if, like us here Downunder you are confined to barracks, what would be good to do while relaxing in your gorgeous knitwear? Whether you’re on your own & looking for something fun, or desperately trying to hide from the rest of your bubble before you throttle them? Or coming home exhausted working the front lines of the local Hospital/Supermarket/Pharmacy/Bus/Rubbish Truck?

Baking is always good (although we have a bit of a flour shortage her, clearly many internal domestic goddesses are being embraced) If you can get your hands on the white stuff, how about these Spinach & Cheese scones? The super easy DELICIOUS recipe is from a fabulous local bakery here in Auckland, get it here

Scone

 

If you are more of a sweet tooth, how about these? I used cranberries, pecans & dark chocolate, but I’d say the options are endless. Recipe by David Lebovitz here

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So you’ve got your scone or cookie (actually we’d call that a biscuit here in NZ, but cookie does sound comforting doesn’t it?), now something to read?

I’ve just finished this fabulous book by Peter Swanson, it seems to have different titles in the UK or US, but either way, its a great twisty read, perfect if you like murder mysteries & that smug feeling when an author drops a sneaky reference to book you love…and you nod knowingly. Yes you do, don’t deny it…

Maybe watching is more you thing? If you are a mystery lover you might also like Knives Out, a film I saw about four months ago, and LOVED. A clever closed room murder mystery,  and Daniel Craig, need I say more?

Not a mystery buff? A show playing on UK television, that’s also been picked up here by TVNZ called The Repair Shop is bringing me (and my husband and I expect many others) so much joy . It’s TV the British do best, clever, low key & yet completely lovely & quietly emotional . If you can get through an episode with a quite happy tear or three you’re a better woman than I.

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So much for natural colour…

Lastly, can I suggest embracing the headscarf? I don’t know about you but my lovely hairdresser is just a mirage in the distance, my current reality is a skunk stripe growing more noticeable by the day. I predict headscarves will be VERY in this season!

Hope where ever you are you are ok, managing what is a super anxious time & looking after yourself (or someone is looking after you!). I think our Prime Minister , definitely a woman you want to have in charge during a crisis, said it best…

Be Kind

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With my Heart on my Sleeve, Cedar

 

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This pose is called “I can’t find my sunglasses”…

Exercise. I love it in theory. I’ve even dabbled in it from time to time. Cycling at school (I wasn’t very good but I liked the outfits), a couple of Triathlons , where I discovered swimming laps is possibly the most boring thing in the world. A brief ill advised attempt at Step aerobic classes. It was a very fancy gym, there’s me smack in the middle of a huge room of Lycra clad zealots grapevining our hearts out. Sadly I lost control of my new Reeboks momentarily & lurched off the edge of my box, taking out the poor woman next to me. Obviously I never went back.

Fast forward many years and theirs me struggling over the Auckland Harbor bridge (OMG that thing goes on for ever) running 21 km despite having a perfectly good car. Why??! Even when reasonably fit I run like a woman two steps away from a full cardiac event. Add to that I foolishly decided to wear the event sponsor tee shirt, which was a smudge too short, so I spent 20.5 km pulling my top down, arrggh!

Cedar Dolman Top PDF pattern

But exercise does make us feel better. Well it does after you’ve done it anyway. Great for the heart, skin, muscles, mind, it’s all good. I just want to do it in such a way it doesn’t actually appear I’m doing it. A nice brisk walk, maybe a cheeky 20 mins on the stationery cycle , a few stretches to keep everything from getting too creaky. I want to be comfortable, but also look good , and not go anywhere near a Lululemon store.

Enter the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman  top. This deceptively simple wee number can be made either in woven or knit fabrics. It has dolman sleeves (surprise) , a facing on the neckline & hem, with the option of a cute tie detail.

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Literally watching grass grow…

Now clearly I’m not a woman about to head out the door for a brisk 5 km. In fact I was off to lunch (now that’s something I’ll run for) , when I brought the pattern I didn’t have any suitable knit fabric, I did however have this lovely light cotton from Drapers Fabrics. Perfect for a light casual top to throw over jeans, it would also give me the chance to test the sizing before I embarked on my active wear adventure.

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I cut a size 18 Bust grading out to size 20 at the waist & hips. The pattern was a breeze to put together, the only alteration I made was to add an additional 4 “/10 cm to the sleeve, I wasn’t sure where it would hit my arm, but I’m really happy with the additional coverage, and will add the extra to my knit version also.

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Slightly fitted but not tight

I cut a straight hem, for my knit version I’m going to try the cute tie detail. Actually it would also work with a woven, so watch this space. I’d also like to add width to the woven sleeves & insert some elastic for a cuff effect, like the Montrose this is a simple top that can carry plenty of creative alterations.

For NZ peeps, Spotlight are having a cracking sale at the moment, behold this pile of beauties!

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Lovely soft knits

These two are knits, the bottom will be a Cedar for wearing with my black leggings for walking, the top one, I’m not sure yet, but isn’t it cute!

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Rayon for the win!

I love sewing rayon. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but these bold prints & colours really caught my eye. At least one will be another Fringe dress, the orange I’m thinking a Montrose for work with black pants & wedges, comfy but still fun.

It’s been super hectic few months so I’ve enjoyed getting back into my sewing room. That is the beauty of a nice quick project, sometimes you just want to do something simple and get it finished. When not sewing I’ve been out in the garden, with plenty of rain & sunshine everything is growing incredibly fast.

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Rosa “St Pretty Sure it Was a Church”

Sadly I’m terrible at remembering plant names, I kept the label for this glorious rose in a very safe place…so safe I still can’t find it, but it was definitely a church of some kind…

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Hmmm, this looks interesting…

 

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Just hangin…

Oh to be as relaxed as a cat! 🙂

 

Have a great week, I’m off to water the garden. Again.

Kristina x

Changing up with Montrose…

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I’m laughing in the face of a cold , can you tell? Between Mr D putting his back out & my almost-but-not-quite Manflu it’s been a symphony of sniffling & shuffling at Plum Towers this week. Sewing has taken a back seat to sitting on the couch with Netflix , a box of tissues & a LemSip. I don’t often get colds, which is good , I’m a moaning Minnie when I do (apparently…!)

I cut a couple of Cashmerette Montrose tops out a few weeks ago, and finally got around to finishing them over the weekend. I’ve made the pattern several times before, this time I had a couple of pieces of precious fabric to use, always good to start with a tried & tested pattern adding a couple of details to change it up.

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Love me a cute frill…and animal print. And gold!

First up some Atelier Brunette dreamy double gauze from  Miss Maude, this fabric is just so lovely to sew and to wear. It’s soft, light yet warm and the gold dots add a gorgeous detail on the rich chestnut colour, perfect for a grey Auckland day. It isn’t cheap, so I wanted make something I could wear with jeans on the weekend, but also for work.

I cut my usual Size 16 C/D bust, grading to an 18 at the waist & a 20 at the hip. So what changes did I make to the basic Montrose pattern?

First up, a frill all around the hem. I cut two rectangles of fabric on the fold, each one 29 x 54 cm (8″ x 21″) . I ran two rows of gathering stitches along one long edge of each piece, stopping 2-3 cm from the edge to allow for joining together (you don’t want to sew over your gathering stitches ) Join the two pieces together at the short edge to form a large circle, finish your seams, then begin gathering until the loop fits the lower hem of your bodice. It doesn’t actually take as long as you would think, trust me, the double gauze is quite stable, so the gathers tend to stay in place as you work. I trimmed about 10 cm/4 ” off my bodice, you might want to pin/baste the frill in place while you decide where you want it to sit on your body. Hem to finish (ok it’s a VERY long hem, won’t lie.)

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I used the large bicep sleeve piece (worth the price of the pattern alone, seriously) , and added a small amount of gathering around the sleeve to make it sit closer in to my elbow, before using binding to finish the hem. I almost always forget I only need one piece of binding when cutting out pattern that uses it around a neckline, and usually end up cutting two on the folded fabric,  so I often finish my sleeves with it also.

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Yeah, it is gonna rain again…

All up I’m really happy with this top, next time I would gather the sleeves in a little more, and use visible binding around the neckline . Perfect with jeans & some subtle animal print/gold espadrilles, roll on Summer!

So from the ease of wonderful stable double gauze to the slinky headache that is viscose.

 

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Yep, this is what I intended all along…

Ok how gorgeous is this fabric! Thanks to birthday vouchers, I treated myself, the colour combination is very me ( I’ve made my feelings on mustard very clear) , I rarely wear plain white. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of disturbance in the Force or what but as soon as I put on a white top whatever I happen to be eating has an immediate gravitational pull right down my front, a bowl of spaghetti & I look like an extra from CSI. But print, oh it hides a multitude of sins!

So back to me on my sickbed. What shouldn’t you do with a stinking cold? Ok besides going into work and coughing all over everyone while moaning about how bad you feel? DON’T BIND ANYTHING. EVER. IT WILL LOOK LIKE THIS.

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Oh dear…

More ripples than a bag of chips. Also what is going on with those clumsy pin tucks you may ask. Indeed. I had an idea, the execution left much to be desired, lets leave it at that shall we?

So my bright idea was to add cute little pin tucks at the front of my Montrose, visible binding around the neckline, with small tucks at the sleeve hem, also bound. I thought the light viscose would lend itself to the tucks, while still allowing the lovely print to shine.

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A face that says yes I have a cold…but look at my new top hey!

To achieve my modifications on this one I wanted three tucks ether side of the center front. I ended up adding 10 cm/4″ to the middle of the front bodice, to allow for this. I also cut the extra piece of binding to use on my sleeves. So as you can see, I have an inverted pleat on my fabulous fabric, what happened? Well those pin tucks were not easy , or successful, the fabric is soft with a wee bit of bounce , it really didn’t want to hold those pleats at all. Trying to sew them maxed out on Panadol & Robitussin probably didn’t help to be fair… I then compounded the situation by adding my neckline binding. No, I don’t know what I was thinking except that clearly I wasn’t thinking.

After much faffing and unpicking (my Superpower remember!) I removed the binding, and unpicked all the tucks. In the end an inverted pleat seemed the best way to gather the fabric while still providing an interesting visual detail. I did the same on the sleeves, which I actually really like.

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A little obsessed with sleeve details…

The neckline binding isn’t ideal, but I’d given the binding and neckline such a hard time already I’m thankful it’s at least wearable. Next time perhaps a visible but smooth binding, inserted with a clear head , yes?

 

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Its still a lovely top , perfect for work with my mustard cardi.

If anything , besides not sewing with a cold, this exercise has taught me I need to be more considerate of the properties of my fabric before I just go for it with a cunning plan. I’ve sewn pin tucks before, on linen, which is a whole different ball game. Actually a linen pin tuck Montrose would be very cute…

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Stop & think before you bind people!

I hope you have had a fabulous week, it stopped raining long enough this morning for Mr D to get out in the garden weeding. No doubt he will be complaining of a sore back later, sadly drowned out by the sound of me coughing…

Take your Vitamin C kids!

Kristina x

 

My new pal Ellis

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Hello from a rather damp & windy Auckland! We are in the midst of a large landscaping/decking/gardening extravaganza at the moment so OF COURSE it’s raining cats & canines. After literally months of dry weather. Sigh.

To remind myself of sunnier days , I’m sharing not just my lily white legs but a new skirt, huzzah! I seem to have all sorts of problems finding great skirt patterns, maybe I’m very particular (ok, no maybe about it), but for something relatively simple, I struggle.

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So when I saw the Ellis Skirt from Cashmerette I was definitely interested. Who doesn’t want a perfect denim skirt? I know I’ll never again achieve the sartorial perfection that was 11 year old me, rockin’ my blue denim skirt with a yellow Pickaberry tee shirt & Bata bullet sneakers but still , I can give it a crack right?

Somehow the denim skirt morphed into something a little more formal. I work full time in a law firm (I’m the accountant, they don’t let me loose on clients but I still need to look reasonably smart, no casual Fridays for me) so the reality is I’m in work wear for the majority of the week . Except when I get home & change. I remember reading one of those “french woman” articles, where basically you are reminded that no matter what you do you will never be as chic as a French woman, because for starters you’re not French (or thin, you don’t smoke or wear high heels or have a lover. Or two.) and one of the woman interviewed commented how much she enjoyed coming home & changing out of her formal work suit, into something casual. So not yoga pants a ratty tee & slippers then, oui? Non. The casual was a pair of wool pants, a cashmere sweater & loafers. I did at least chuck out a pair of legging with a hole & several rather dubious tees…

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Striking a pose, or did I drop an earring down there?

Anyway, after looking at my work wardrobe ,and trying to bring some semblance of sense to my sewing I thought the pattern would work perfectly with some stretch cotton sateen I’d picked up at Spotlight. The stretch would give the comfort & recovery of denim, while being work appropriate, win!

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I really love the colours in this fabric, and some leftover green linen from this wee dress worked perfectly for my pocket lining.

The cotton sateen is a dream to sew, stable & robust, but I felt like some of the traditional denim skirt top stitching details, particularly on back pockets would have been lost on such a busy pattern. In fact I ditched the back pockets all together , what the heck am I ever putting in those?

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Yeah, booty call …

But I did top stitch around the pockets , back yoke & down the front , it does give a nice crisp finish.

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How cool is this fabric???

I cut a straight Size 20, its a wee bit loose around the waist because the fabric is a little more forgiving than denim , but this was fine, and given we’ve had morning tea four mornings out of five this week at work possibly a very good idea? I made View B, lengthened to view A Length, without belt loops or back pockets.

The skirt works well with a tee & cardi, to make it cooler weather appropriate I’ve also teamed it with a sweater & boots, I think it works!

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I spend a lot of time looking for lost earrings apparently?

Like other Cashmerette patterns, the PDF came together well, instructions are clear, and I want to make another. I have an amazing stretch corduroy cut out (I know, naughty starting another project after cutting out, I’m a rebel, what can I say?) and some cool black denim that says make me. I wish work didn’t cut into my sewing day so much?!

Mum
Sheila Ryan x

It’s Mothers Day here in NZ, I’m very lucky to still have my Mum around, she’s 83, took her first plane ride at 80, has recently learnt to play Mah Jong & theirs no stopping her. Mum has sewn all her life , we had plenty of home made clothing growing up , it’s only now I sew myself I realize how much effort she put into our wardrobe. She’s still amazed I have finally taken to sewing , only about 30 years after she hoped? We gave Mum tickets to the Mousetrap (I got my LOVE of books, reading & Agatha Christie from my mother & I will thank her till the day I die for that) and a lovely infinity scarf I made in Liberty jersey. In true Ryan style we forgot to take a picture.

I’ll leave you with Tuppence, I suspect she wants to be painted like those French girls (what is the French thing this week?)

Tuppence

And Tommy mid photo bomb!

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Have a fab week people 🙂

Kristina xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

In the wild…my way

 

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Hello again, I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend! Mine started well, picking Mum’s overlocker off after a full service, she’s been itching to get it back so I was happy to oblige. Sadly the key fob for our car finally bit the dust, refusing to open the door, instead setting the immobilizer AND the alarm off. I spent two hours sitting by the car with an overlocker waiting for the AA, looking a bit grumpy  ( and probably slightly odd…)

Anyway, after a bit of a knit fest it was nice to get back to some wovens, and I must say I picked a goodin. A trip to Spotlight with a fellow sewing pal last weekend was a real treat, so many lovely new fabrics, including a fab white spotty cotton sateen that reminded me of animal print…which I seem to be extremely fond of yes? . I’ve never sewn with it before, what a joy, so stable, both to cut out and to sew. Plus it was 40% off, yeow!

I talked in my last post about the discussions going on in the sewing community concerning inclusivity, and one of those things was buying and using patterns from designers with size ranges that don’t really accommodate larger sizes. I’m on the cusp (my sister has a slight lisp and hearing her say that word is one of life’s small joys) of many pattern companies, often squeaking in at the top end of their size range. But for some designers, I’m WAY off the chart, and to be honest, if I’m going to pay top dollar , I don’t fancy then having to grade a pattern to actually get it in the ballpark of fitting me. NZ is a looooong way from anywhere* really so we tend to pay more for goods from anywhere outside the Pacific due to transport & FX costs.

Instead of buying a pattern for a super cute top I spotted recently (a good 4-5 inches outside my size, boo!), I thought I’d work with a couple of patterns I already have.

 

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So chic!

The Cuff Top by Assembly Line patterns, perfect for work with nice pants, equally appropriate for the weekend. So how to make a perfect version for me?

First, the cuff detail is the feature, and I have just the pattern.

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The Asymmetric Dress  from The Makers Atelier has the perfect cuff detail, so now I need the top to attach them to…

Step up…

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One of my fav patterns, I’ve made the Montrose several times before, and I love that I can create something I really want without recreating the wheel.

First step was to use some of my fabric to create a mock up of the sleeve detail, this was the unknown, and the bit I wanted to get spot on, its the “star of the dish” …if I were a slightly annoying TV cooking show…

I took the Montrose sleeve I’ve use before (all hail the full bicep sleeve!) and added width to allow for the gathering of the cuff. I then followed the instructions for inserting the elastic as per the Makers Atelier pattern, although of course I forgot to add length to allow for folding up the fabric to create the channel for the elastic, doh!

 

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Not a bad first attempt, although too short…

Using the fabric I intended for the whole garment allowed me to get a good idea for the feel and how it worked with the elastic, it was surprisingly easy and I love the effect of the gathered cuff. Next steps…

Taking my pattern piece and adding length as well as width. In my case I squared off the size 16 full bicep piece, which added approx 3-4 cm (1.5-2 inches) to each side, plus an additional 5 cm to the length of the sleeve.

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To make up the cuff, sew your sleeve together at the side seam, then fold a 1 cm (1/2 inch) hem.

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Measure your elastic & sew the short ends together. I used 4 cm (2 inch) elastic, which I stretched around my arm to give a firm but not tight band.

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Next, I folded my sleeve hem up another 5 cm (2.5 inches) and ironed it to create a hem to follow (this is exponentially easier with a nice firm fabric like sateen!)

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Now, take your elastic, and line the seam up with the seam on your sleeve hem, slipping it inside the fabric channel. Yes, it will feel weird as there is way more fabric than elastic but bear with me caller!

Now on your machine & working from the wrong side, line up the top of your sleeve hem fold with your needle, you want to encase the elastic but not stitch into it. Lower the needle & off you go. Honestly, its not as terrible as it looks!

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The trick is to stretch the elastic, but be careful not to sew into it. Once you reach the end you will have fabric you can straighten out so your gather is nice & even , with elastic that hugs your arm without cutting off circulation. If your fingers turn blue please take off your top & have another crack!

 

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I can do it! And smile like a loon while I do..

The Montrose has darts, which are not included in my inspiration pattern, but to be honest I think for those of us with a fuller bust a bit of shaping is essential , while still maintaining a reasonably boxy look. It’s all in the proportions. Like many things really.

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Now please admire my lovely flat neckline binding, after the horrors of stretched out knit necklines it  was rather heartening to make something that actually lay nice & flat!

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Me about to tell Tuppence not to jump on the table! Tuppence jumped on the table.

To complete the look?

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I do seem to have a thing going on…

 

So, not a perfect re-creation, but I think a great homage to a pattern I admire, while keeping my own values & aesthetic….and actually not spending any money on a new pattern, huzzah!

Kristina x

*If you’ve never been to this neck of the woods, imagine getting on a plane & taking off from Auckland due North West,  out over the huge dark Pacific ocean. A few hours later you’ve had pre-dinner drinks, dinner, maybe a movie, possibly an argument with your husband, but guess what? You’re still in the middle of nowhere. It’s literally nothing but ocean the whole time you look out the window. A few fitful hours sleep, and after eight hours you can wave at Hawaii as you pass a few tiny spots of light in the distance. After that,  settle back for another fours hours or so of nothing but water before the bright lights of LA come into view. Its a bloody big ocean!

 

Concord my way (no highway involved)…

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SO, the question. Why would you bother making a tee shirt? Surely if there is one item of clothing that can be found anywhere, in most sizes, its the humble tee?

Well, yes & no. You can find inexpensive tee shirts all over the place, but lets be honest, a $5 tee might seem cheap, but its costing somewhere. Be it child labour in back street sweat shops, cotton made in factories spewing crap into the environment, you get the picture.

Conversely, on of my sisters recently paid $140 for a tee shirt. Yes it was lovely ethically produced cotton, and yes, it looked fab, but my inner sewer couldn’t help but think wow, that’s a VERY simple shape!

Also tee shirts are very personal things. For me, the perfect version is “long enough”, which can vary, but never so short I feel like I need to pull it down to avoid muffin top flash (and God forbid never cropped, that ship sailed the same time my 501’s left town.) Sleeves should be elbow length, and snug but not so tight my arms look like strangled sausages. Because I have a larger bust, the necklines I prefer are a scoop, V or a nice boat neck. A high neck tee on me can look “mammaryish” for want of a better phrase!

 

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Love these colours

Enter the Cashmerette Concord, a pattern I have had for ages, but never quite got around to making (I have to be in the mood for knits). It has a variety of options, from neckline, sleeve & length, which means I can have exactly the tee I want, every time.

This is actually the first make I have lined up for my Make Nine challenge for 2019 , check out mine & other fab sewists over on the Curvy Sewing Collective .

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Yes, the lawn does need work, I don’t need reminding…

I chose View C, which is the longest tunic length, with a curved hem, elbow sleeves, and cute sleeve tabs. As I imagine all those Chefs on Food Network would put it, its “a tee, but with the volume turned up”!*

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I’m actually admiring my new clothes line. I haven’t had one for FIVE years!

The fabric is a reasonably thick stretch cotton, next time I would probably go with something slightly lighter, I feel like it clings a little more than I like. I THINK it’s from Spotlight, but to be honest its been in my stash for yonks, so I’m not 100% sure. But I love the cute print, which is why I brought it !

This is a nice easy sew, even with the curved hem & the sleeve tabs. As usual with Cashmerette patterns the instructions & size range are excellent. I cut a 18 C/D bust, grading to a 20 waist and hip, mainly due to the “cling” factor of my fabric . My last Cashmerette  make, the Pembroke was a 16 C/D in a much more stretchy fabric.

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No strangled sausage happening here thank you very much…

The only alteration I made was to add approx. 5 cm (2 ‘ ) to the sleeve, using this method. Jenny now adds full bicep sleeves to some of her patterns but this one is a few years old. I have 16 ‘ biceps so it’s one I do often!

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My twin stitching needs work, but I feel my neckline binding game is strong?

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I actually really like the length, but I think it would work better in a lighter, slightly less clinging fabric, I’m ok with my lumps & bumps (or should I say curves & gradients, sounds better?!), but I don’t like to feel like an over stuffed sofa hey?

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I already have my next Concord lined up, this time a striped version, with gold sparkles from Spotlight, who doesn’t need a bit of gold sparkle in their life, seriously?

It’s been an interesting week in the sewing community. A conversation blew up on Instagram (as things are wont to do on Social Media), about inclusive in patterns & pattern companies, the difficulties involved with plus size” patterns & it would seem, in plus size bodies…?

I made a short comment about my thoughts on Instagram here (ok, it was short because Instagram has a word limit on their posts.). I have a lot more thoughts on this one, but I’ve learnt from past experience sometimes its good to step back, let it all percolate & write from the informed perspective…as opposed the ragey Oh FFS give me a break one. I also cleaned & oiled my sewing machine & overlocker yesterday, so I clearly have some peak level adulting thing going on…

In the meantime, please check out Megan’s awesome post which has lots of food for thought and a great list of inclusive pattern companies**. Lets make our $$$ talk.

Now, I’ll leave you with this pic of my husband, we went shopping recently for outdoor furniture for our new deck. He LOVES watching movies, and decided this would be the perfect indoor lounging chair for his new 55″ TV. . I thought it was a bit big.

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Please bear in mind he is 6″ 3″…

We didn’t buy the chair.

Have a lovely week! Its Auckland Anniversary day here so I’ve had a whole day off, and a four day week to follow, huzzah!

 

Kristina xxx

 

* My personal fav is Ina Garten. I want her house. And her Barn. And her life, basically.

**I intend to put this list on my blog permanently, I just need to consult a willing tech savvy young person to help me & ensure I don’t actually lose my mind doing so.

 

 

Well, Pembroke almost made Christmas…

 

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Still staggered how much screws costs (says new deck owner)

Hello, Miri Kirihimete and almost Happy New Year to you. I’d like to pretend this is me swanning about on my new deck on Christmas Day.

Alas, firstly Christmas Day 2018 was WET here in Auckland. Despite the fancy new pergola our amazing builders worked like demons to get up in time for the 25th, the horizontal precipitation defeated us. Watching my husband & brother in law play Jenga with three sun umbrellas trying to provide additional shelter was pretty entertaining however…

 

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Go West! Or North, in this case…

Secondly I hadn’t actually finished my Christmas Day dress. Or indeed started it (although I did pre-washed my fabric, does that count?) As per usual, my ambition far exceeded my time, skills & motivation.

But come these delicious quiet days between Christmas & New Year, where you have to consult a calendar to figure out what day it is, I figured I could get busy. Half of Auckland has left town, the fridge is full of leftovers & I can can sew my heart out.

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Just hangin’ on my deck, as you do. Actually we have no deck furniture so standing is obligatory.

After the success of my Pembroke trial run,  I knew a dress version in the rayon knit I picked up from Spotlight was perfect. Festive, without actually being covered in elf’s & holly (not that I would object to that AT ALL), stretchy (always a bonus when contemplating that 5th mince pie), and quick to sew. Ok, not quick enough for me to get it done in time for Christmas day, but still pretty darn speedy eh?

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Tommy being ultra cute off camera

I love this pattern. The scoop neckline is perfect for me (the pattern also comes with a higher jewel neckline that would be great for cooler weather), and the method of binding is wonderfully non tear inducing.  I personally really like the waist ties, being short waisted they pull me in at my slimmest part, so I don’t feel frumpy, but I’ve seen some really cute versions without.

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Ties call for fiddling…

 

Please excuse the slightly wobbly hemming, lordy I hate hemming knits. I hate hemming in general but knits, with a side split? Ekk! So worth it though, with such a simple shape it’s the details that make the difference, even if I do need a glass of Chardonnay each time I use my twin needles.

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Well, that would be a booty call I believe…?

Once again I took approx. 5 cm off the sleeves before adding the cuffs, I prefer the length just below my elbows.

All in all, the prefect summer Xmas/Festive frock.

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I look like I’m “up to mischief” according to my husband?!

So, my last make for 2018. Its been a busy year, both in the sewing room & out. While I’m pretty happy with progress, there is a lot to learn in 2019. Without turning into a whole “lets lose weight, learn a language & discover yoga” type of conversation, a couple of thoughts:

Learn to use the myriad of special feet I brought when I brought my Janome. No, the button hole foot does not count.

Properly measure and label my fabric stash. All of it, not just the top six pieces…before wandering off to watch Food Network.

Use at least two of the patterns in my stash before buying another one. At least. Or at least one. Or none but only on VERY special occasions. Ditto fabric .

Remember, if I like it, make it. Bugger “flattering”.

Finish the bloody novel!

Other thoughts ?

Favorite make of 2018:  I’ve made lots of things I’m really happy with this year, but I do really love these frocks!

Best TV Show of 2018 (nothing to do with sewing but hey ho , it’s my blog kids): The Casketeers, a NZ show now on Netflix. It’s a reality documentary following a funeral home in South Auckland. I realize probably none of that sounds completely endearing, but trust me, this is TV gold. I have literally cried buckets & laughed my arse off in the space of five minutes. Note the show is in English, with few subtitles.

Fav pic of the year not including me standing like a dork: This is two of my sisters when we were on holiday in Australia at Easter. This is everything really 🙂

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Cheers!

 

Best book of 2018: Jane Harper’s The Dry kept me absolutely turn the pages  (or flicking the Kindle, as it were). SUCH a great book (as are her two others).

Best cat pic of the year: Yep, this really is my blog kids! Check out Tommy, roaring his way into 2019!

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Now, let’s you & I do the same!

Kristina x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pembroke into Christmas…

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Hello! Why yes it is me standing in front of my Christmas tree posing like a dork again. It’s pouring with rain here today. Big, fat rain, warm & very very wet. Mother Nature put my Xmas lights to shame on Friday, lightening & thunder for ages, sun yesterday, precipitation today. Welcome to an Auckland summer yes?

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I absolutely should be out Christmas shopping, but just the thought of trying to park makes me want to lie down in a darkened room, let alone the actual shops. I did manage to get myself to Spotlight last week, I’m pretty sure it was to buy something on my list? Who knows. What I DID buy was some rather delicious rayon knit. 40% off no less! Plus I had a spend $100 get $40 off voucher. Honestly, its surely some kind of crime not to use those kind of discounts. If not , it certainly should be.

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For once I did actually have a pattern in mind when I brought my fabric. I tested the Pembroke pattern from Cashmerette , to be honest I didn’t make a great fabric choice, and the pattern needing tweaking, my resulting garment was not as fabulous as it could have been.

It was yonks ago ( which is encouraging to be honest, if I’m going to the expense & time of testing a pattern, its nice to know the feedback is actually being used and if necessary, acted on) Jenny sends a complimentary final pattern to her testers when it’s released (yay !) , mine was a lovely surprise and arrived coming into Summer. I’ve been seeing lots of fab Northern Hemisphere versions in really snugly cosy knits , but I knew I needed something much lighter & with way more stretch (it’s Xmas, I’m eating mince pies for breakfast hey!?)

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I cant even remember how many lists I have on the go right now…

I’ve not had huge success sewing knits, I think I peaked with my Turner dress, but for some reason I tend to stick to wovens. Nothing like a bargain to change my mind!

Now there was also method to my madness. I picked up another gorgeous knit, in what I thought was rather festive colours. Now who doesn’t want a new Christmas Day dress? We have the whaneu to ours on Xmas day, so I want something cute but also practical, I have turkey, beef, ham & a cocktail to wrangle after all…

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Yes, I do pre-wash my fabric!

Being a wonderful combination of lazy but also stubborn (yes, I am a Taurus actually) , I was determined to have a fab Xmas day frock, without spending too much time making it. The Pembroke was an experiment, it was actually meant to be a dress , but I didn’t have quite enough fabric.

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Yep, my cats do have their own stockings “kay…

A tunic is fun, and also adaptable. With leggings & sneakers , perfect for the supermarket run. With jeans & sandals great for the pub/shopping/lunch.

I cut a 16 Bust, grading to a 20 waist & hips, with no alteration to the bicep (yess!). I made the scoop neck, with mid length cuffed sleeves. The neckline is probably more scooped than it should be as I had a major brain fart attaching the neckline binding & did it around the wrong way. Rather than unpick (??!), I cut the offending binding off & attached a new one. Boom!

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Cuff love…

I chopped about 2 cm off the sleeve before adding the cuff, I think its a good length.

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Binding love…

The ties are optional. but I like the shape they give in a lighter knit.

So, Xmas sewing for me, anyone else?

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For my brother in law, a tee shirt in cool pale blue linen. I’ve had to buy the navy shorts to go with, expectations meet reality , that Christmas Feeling!

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Laundered linen with rib

For my sister, after seeing my linen Fielder she decided  she wanted one to, I brought the fabric for her birthday, now I have a deadline, Xmas Day dress!

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My photographer telling me “do something with your mouth & eyes”…

Whatever you celebrate , I hope you are having a great run into the season. If this time of year is harder I hope you are doing ok too. My Dad was diagnosed with aggressive cancer in October of 2010. He LOVED Christmas, and while we didn’t have huge means financially (five kids will do that to you Dad!) we have always celebrated royally. He got very sick very fast & passed away in January 2011. Xmas is a always tinged with that “gap”, but as I was once told, “missing someone special means lucky you, you had someone special to miss”. Sure did .

Now, whats it to be?  Turner or Pembroke for Xmas Day???

Kristina x

 

 

 

Montrose and the builders…

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Hello again! I’ve returned from a lovely relaxing holiday in Fiji

Apparently. It was three weeks ago but feels like an age. Impending Christmas will do that to you hey?

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Was I really here…?

To counteract the holiday “arrgh” a new top maybe? I’ve worn and worn my previous Montrose top, so why not another version. I missed my sewing room when I was away (yes, ten whole days), so a relatively simple sew to get me back into the swing of things was perfect. Also I need to start using some of my “*how much fabric do you need???!!” (*husband) stash. Indeed.

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Hangin on my new deck…

I brought this delicious Atelier Brunette double gauze from Miss Maude a month or two back. Its pricey, but I’m an absolute sucker for anything in this mustard/orange/rust/brown colour palette. If it goes with animal print you can count me in. Add the sparkle of the embroidered circle (dots?) , combined with the softness of a double gauze and I’m sold. But if you’re a lazy toile type (like me) then special fabric is best used with a pattern you trust.

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Staring at the wall…as you do.

I love the curved back yoke detail on the Montrose, it adds interest, and creates a nice shape. But of course the big bonus is sleeves. That fit. Sing along with me now Hallelujah!

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Sleeve tuck…and check out that tan.:)

I went off piste with the sleeves and bound the hem, to mirror the neckline binding , rather than simply folding up.  I also added three small tucks to bring the sleeve in at the elbow. I have generous biceps, but I think a looser top (and my forearms!)  look better with a tapered sleeve.

Result? A super cute super comfy top that works perfectly for the office, or with jeans on the weekend. In fact these pics are after a day at work, so if I look a tad crumpled that’s why.

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Before shot!

If you look closely you can see I’m standing somewhat in a building site. Am I ever! We are currently adding a large deck , boardwalk, pergola & the great wall of China between us & the neighbors. Actually our neighbors are FABULOUS & have put up with noise, dirt & a digger in their back garden like champs. Fences are so invasive! Not assisted by the fact Ellerslie is basically one big volcano. The digger that was suppose to stay one day stayed three. I can tell you that’s eaten into my fabric buying budget!

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First world problems.

Experience tells me its always gets worse before it gets better. Coming home to see nothing but destruction wasn’t exactly thrilling, but I trust Ben & I know when I said we were having Christmas at our place this year he was fully confident he could deliver. Or he was terrified but figured he could make it work. Either way I’m good with that!

So in the spirit of Christmas, a slightly terrifying festive shot . Your welcome.

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Miri Kirihimete !

Up next, a festive Turner dress, a fab red , white & blue rayon knit. Because every girl needs a new frock for Xmas day.

 

Kristina x